Terracotta figure of a seated goddess

Greek, about 580 BC
From Tanagra, Boeotia, Greece

The body of this terracotta figure is made from a rectangular plank of clay, bent at the waist. A prop at the back forms a chair. The details of the face and hair, and the patterns on the dress and polos are painted in the same dilute clay slip that was used to decorate contemporary pottery. The headdress and the long robes worn by such figures are similar to those worn by Greek orthodox priests; Greek workmen on early excavations named these figures 'Pappas figures' from the word for an orthodox priest.

The polos is especially associated with the underworld goddesses Demeter and her daughter Persephone. The pomegranate ornament around the figure's neck is another attribute of these goddesses. According to Greek mythology, after eating a few pomegranate seeds in the house of Hades, Persephone was condemned to spend half her time in the Underworld, returning to the earth with the spring. Model terracotta pomegranates are sometimes found in tombs, either as an offering to the underworld deities or because their thousands of seeds seemed to promise a renewal of life.

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More information

Bibliography

R.A. Higgins, Greek terracottas (London, Methuen, 1967)

Dimensions

Height: 21.000 cm

Museum number

GR 1879.6-24.2 (Terracotta 769)

GAA5439

Location

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